By on June 20, 2013

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In January 2010 a Swiss court handed down a $290,000 fine on a traffic violation. To be sure , the violation in question was a big one and involved speeds approaching 180mph. Police say that, once they rolled in behind the speeding car, it took it nearly a half mile to come to a complete stop. Apparently the driver had avoided earlier detection by radar controlled cameras because his speed was so high that it exceeded the cameras’ ability to measure the car’s velocity. Despite the severity of the offense, it was not the car’s speed that caused the severity of the fine, it was the driver’s income. That’s an idea I think I could get behind.

Think about it. As the gap between the rich and the poor in our society continues to widen, we are setting ourselves up for a situation where the elite can do virtually anything they damn well please. Drive like an ass and that’s a $1000 fine. For you and I that’s quite a bite but to a hedge fund manager making well into the six figures it’s chump change. He can pay that with a smile and go right back to putting the rest of us in danger.

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Of course our hypothetical investment banker will eventually score enough points to lose his license, but before that happens he may have other options that will keep him on the road longer than you or I. Higher insurance rates are no bother. The cost of driver retraining and other methods used by state to reform habitual traffic offenders is minor. In some states they even let you choose your own driver’s school, and if the option exists he may end up hooning around on a racetrack as part of an advanced driver safety course rather than spending our Saturday in an overheated classroom with the rest of us budget conscious rejects.

Thank God the rich have enough political influence to stamp out this idea before it can even take root, but let’s ponder an egalitarian society where people are actually expected to redress their wrongs. As my old man used to inform me before he had to do what hurt him more than it hurt me, you aint gonna learn if you don’t feel the burn. Call it “class warfare” if you like, but if I have to feel the heat, why shouldn’t everyone?

Thomas Kreutzer currently lives in Buffalo, New York with his wife and three children but has spent most of his adult life overseas. He has lived in Japan for 9 years, Jamaica for 2 and spent almost 5 years as a US Merchant Mariner serving primarily in the Pacific. A long time auto and motorcycle enthusiast he has pursued his hobbies whenever possible. He writes for any car website that will have him and enjoys public speaking. According to his wife, his favorite subject is himself.

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91 Comments on “Traffic Tickets On A Sliding Scale? Maybe It’s Time...”


  • avatar
    ToxicSludge

    I like the idea of the ‘sliding scale’ traffic fines.If I were to get caught doing 50mph over the speed limit my fine should end up around a buck three ninety eight.Thank you judge…..see ya.

  • avatar
    bachewy

    Are there enough rich people acting like hooligans to actually make this an issue?

    • 0 avatar
      ClutchCarGo

      Consider the number of celebrities popped for DUI alone, and realize that non-celebrity offenses will get little press unless a death is involved. Humans respond to financial incentives/disincentives, but only when the numbers become meaningful to the individual.

      • 0 avatar
        bball40dtw

        I’ve wanted to ask this for awhile…What the heck is your avatar ClutchCarGo? To me, it looks like Race Bannon with fudge on his face.

        • 0 avatar
          SpiderAndI

          Clutch Cargo was an old (60s? 70s?) animated show that used a very low-budget technique of superimposing footage of real human mouths talking, over minimally-animated faces of characters. Yes, it was as creepy as it sounds.

        • 0 avatar
          Summicron

          That’s the creepy technique called “Syncro-Vox”.

          Wiki “Clutch Cargo” for a fun little glimpse of brilliant cheapness.

        • 0 avatar
          ClutchCarGo

          Spider has it, tho the show goes back to the the 50s I think. When I first signed up to comment here it was the first thing that jumped to mind even tho neither the show nor the character had much of anything to do with cars. I just liked the show as a kid (we had very low standards at the time) and the pun appealed to me.

    • 0 avatar
      burgersandbeer

      No, there aren’t. They aren’t called the 1% for nothing.

  • avatar
    jmo

    Germany fatalities per 1 billion km 7.2. US fatalities per 1 billion km 8.5.

    High speed is not a factor in most crashes, inattention is a far bigger threat. No one driving 180mph is not paying attention.

  • avatar
    Thinkin...

    FYI – you got the metrics messed up. The speeding ticket was for doing ~ 160 km/h – or about 85mph in a 35mph residential zone. Still hella dangerous. (It was in a Ferrari Testarossa if you’re wondering…) His ticket was for the equivalent of $290,000, but he appealed it and got off with paying half of it, on the condition he wasn’t caught speeding again in the near future.

    And yes, I think speeding, and many other fines, should carry a base fine amount, plus a percentage of income/net worth. That way everyone would have similar incentives to follow the law. Because let’s face it – a $200 speeding ticket is less than the cost of a track day some places, so why not put the hammer down if you can afford it?

    • 0 avatar

      Here’s the source I based my main point on – http://www.nbcnews.com/id/38660951/ns/world_news-europe/t/swede-could-face-huge-speeding-fine/#.UcNN46J-uCk

      I think there may have been another incident like the one you describe around the same time, however.

      *Edit* I see, it looks like I confused the facts in two of the examples they gave. The example I gave was a possible fine of almost a million dollars. I really bneed to take a reading course or something. Sorry.

    • 0 avatar
      andreroy55

      160 km/h is 99.4 MPH, FWIW.

      Also, Thomas, if I may. In both cases where you used “you and I” it should have been “you and me”. The rule of thumb here is, take out the “you and” part and see if it makes grammatical sense. So, when you said “For you and I that’s quite a bite”, take out “you and” and you get “For I that’s quite a bite”. Hmmmm. On the other hand “For me that’s quite a bite” works.

  • avatar
    love2drive

    Completely disagree. An ability to pay should not factor in at all – why should it? The propensity to soak people is really getting old. I am not rich, just middle class, but I would one day like to be rich. And the fine I pay should be the same whether I violate a traffic law making 50k or 500k. I committed the same act. So if I’m legally in poverty I should pay no fine, then. In which case your traffic violaters will become predominantly lower income over time, as violations are free (or x% of little is very little).

    • 0 avatar
      carlisimo

      Because the fine is meant as a deterrent. With a fixed amount, it isn’t. For some people it’s a total disaster, and for others it’s a drop in the bucket. For either group, it’s not having the intended effect.

      • 0 avatar
        DC Bruce

        I believe in Virginia — and probably in a number of states — flagrantly exceeding the speed limit or driving above a certain speed (it used to be 75 in Virginia) – is automatic reckless driving, which is automatic license suspension and I don’t know what else.

        It’s a fairly safe bet that if you get caught doing 100 in Virginia, you will spend some time in the local lockup and that you will be taking the bus home, regardless of your income or your net worth.

        • 0 avatar
          carlisimo

          I think that’s ridiculous! Doesn’t fit the crime at all. (If doing 80 in a 65 is a crime, it’s a very minor one, imo.) Reckless driving should have stiff penalties like that, but it should be reserved for seriously dangerous driving.

          • 0 avatar
            stuki

            You’re absolutely right. And fining someone barely able to scrape by $300 is a stiff penalty. Hence should only be done in the most egregious of cases.

      • 0 avatar
        redav

        carlisimo, you missed the point about the other end of the spectrum–that if it’s a sliding scale, then it’s possible that at the other (poor) end, it stops being a deterrent, too. I doubt that’s an issue, but then I doubt it’s an issue at the rich end, either.

        I think there’s a misconception of who the ‘rich’ are & how they think/act. I think that I’m in a statistical category or two that would label me as rich, but I don’t generally think of myself that way, and I certainly don’t act the way portrayed. If anything, most of the rich folk act oppositely because wealth preservation is important to them (otherwise, they wouldn’t have become wealthy in the first place). It’s a case of ‘the next-door millionaire.’ Most millionaires in the US don’t live like millionaires–they live in middle-class neighborhoods, drive older cars, clip coupons, etc. People who live like millionaires don’t stay millionaires very long. I honestly believe that people who are rich will more often obey the law and do things right anyway regardless of fines/penalties. There are very few Paris Hiltons & Justine Biebers out there, and odds are that no sliding scale for fines would be effective with them anyway.

        Another problem is that for the folks like me, who might be labeled as rich, there becomes an increased incentive to hide wealth. I doubt that’s a good thing. Perhaps the solution is to not make it about money, e.g., be quicker to supsend licenses and impound cars. If someone truly acts dangerously, they shouldn’t be on the road, regardless of their income.

        • 0 avatar
          Piston Slap Yo Mama

          Another problem is that for the folks like me, who might be labeled as NOT rich, a traffic ticket can turn a slim month into a catastrophe.

          Regarding hiding wealth – that’s how the rich stay rich in America: they have more tax dodges and tax havens than I have SAE wrenches. Despite this, if I was god emperor of the USA I’d levy sliding scale fines + an audit to keep things in check.

          Then I’d outlaw baggy pants.
          And candy corn. I hate candy corn.

          • 0 avatar
            darkwing

            The overwhelmingly Democratic super-rich, maybe. But your average middle to upper middle class family benefits far more from tax breaks than your “rich”. (And then of course there’s the poor and lower middle class, who somehow pay negative taxes.)

            What you’ve fallen for is merely a scheme to keep the gullible fired up enough to keep voting, but mollified enough to not ask too many questions.

          • 0 avatar
            cwallace

            Roger roger on the baggy pants and candy corn. I for one welcome our new Piston Slap Yo Mama overlord, following whose coronation I will register our cars in the name of my wife/stay-at-home-mom, who reported zero income last FY. (Thank PSYM they haven’t figured out how to tax the work she does– yet.) Giddyup, SUV lousy with the pulverized remains of a thousand Goldfish crackers, and away!

          • 0 avatar

            I dunno. As much as I like your Eric Estrada avatar and hate baggy pants, I do, like all good hearted people, loves me some candy corn…

        • 0 avatar
          carlisimo

          I don’t know. I wouldn’t call myself rich yet, but I’m closer to rich than poor; a speeding ticket wouldn’t stress me out all that much. I’d mutter some words about a ‘random road tax’ and then keep driving the way I usually do. 10 years ago, the same amount of money would have caused me a ton of stress and I’d have to eat cheaper ramen for a month or something. Same law, very different fear factors. To me, that means the law isn’t written very well.

          Anything that costs time or deprivation of rights would’ve impacted similarly now compared to back then. That’s how it should be. So yeah, suspending licenses and impounding cars for dangerous driving is a good idea. Except it’d be draconian (and absurd) to do that for mere speeding. Community service hours could work.

          • 0 avatar
            krhodes1

            I agree “speeding” is not a big deal. “Reckless driving” SHOULD be a big deal. 85mph on a four lane interstate in the middle of nowhere on a clear day? No big deal. I was perfectly comfortable at 135mph in moderate traffic in Germany. 85mph down my residential street where kids chase balls around – Lock ‘em up!

            I don’t think it is hard to distinguish between the two, and it should not be some arbitrary amount over the limit. If you are only endangering yourself, fine, endangering others, throw the book at you. And maybe I am OK if there is a sliding scale for that book, but not for the “speed tax”.

        • 0 avatar
          stuki

          The “millionaire next door” is becoming a less and less meaningful concept as we speak.

          In a progressive society, the goal is for all outcomes to be dictated by policy. That includes financial outcomes. Which means the way to make money, is increasingly to buy (actually lease) yourself a government, or at least a politician. Which you’re not going to do by clipping coupons. Instead, you have to live in his neighborhood, go to school with his children, contribute to his charity, and discretely pay for his hookers and blow, so that prying eyes can’t link the payments to him.

          Once you have leased yourself a politician for a period, you can then instruct him to redistribute the wealth of anyone with any up for grabs to yourself. And the nice-guy coupon clipers doing the right thing, are the most obvious sitting ducks on the planet. Just have Mr. Progressive call them “hoarders”, take their stuff, and hand it to you instead.

          That’s how money and wealth is always and everywhere obtained in progressive dystopias. And, despite well indoctrinated progressives protestations, things are never “diiiiiiiifferent thiiiiiis tiiime”

    • 0 avatar
      Secret Hi5

      It’s complicated. Without a sliding scale, “rich” people get to break laws without any real repercussions. Is that acceptable? To expand the scope of the discussion – What about the “rich” being able to access high-priced lawyers to get away with murder. (cough OJ cough) While the poor didn’t even have the right to free legal counsel until the 20th century.

      I don’t know the answers.

    • 0 avatar
      stuki

      Assume the fine was for murder instead, which statistically it is. If any bailout baby Bernanke buddy could walk around whacking people to their hearts content……….

      Of course, what this illustrates is the idiocy of fines to begin with. As well as the general idiocy of outlawing things that are only kinda-sorta-coud-have-been-bad.

      If you want a civilized society instead of some pathetic, childish, progressive dystopia, any and all penalties meted out by the state need to be approved by a jury of 12. “Violations” that aren’t serious enough to pass that muster aren’t serious enough to harass people over to begin with. In a civilized society that is. And then, you are left with only offenses for which most people agree fines aren’t enough of a deterrent anyway.

  • avatar
    love2drive

    And, I bet the founder of this site would COMPLETELY disagree.

  • avatar
    Landcrusher

    Unfortunately, income isn’t the real issue, it’s wealth. Income and wealth aren’t the same, and the really wealthy are happy to enact any barriers to new entrants to their ranks, like, sliding scale anything. The justification is also suspect to anyone who thinks about the math involved. The wealth gap will always rise over time because the bottom is fixed.

    And, in a democratic system, schemes to fix social ills will always be tried and almost always work to increase those ills. Two primary causes of growing income gap are women’s rights and progressive taxation. Why anyone thinks you can fix actual income disparity by trying to take back money from the powerful after they made it is interesting to me. The powerful will just take more, and since you are measuring how much they earn per year while ignoring what they do to get it and how much of it they actually keep, you will never find a solution.

    Once this ticket schemes happens here the idea of fines as state income will just lead to more tickets and more spent to defend against them etc. etc. (See Red light scamera). Meanwhile, the wealthy will figure out a way to have others pay anyway. That’s what is means to be really wealthy – its having the power to raise your own price. What good to fine George Soros a million dollars just to have him stick it back to you for triple?

    There is a simpler system. First, actually give out the punishments already available for people who break these laws that we now don’t use. If that’s not working (and shouldn’t we always test that the laws we already have are being enforced before adding more?), how about jail in lieu of fine? Many laws have a time or money penalty. If someone is so wealthy that the fine is meaningless, then do the same thing you do to those who can’t pay the fine – jail them.

    • 0 avatar

      This is a thoughtful response. The kind of discussion I was hoping to begin.

    • 0 avatar
      Toad

      A more fair solution is to fine people in hours instead of dollars, and make time spent similarly miserable: picking up trash on the roadside perhaps. This takes away the monetary incentive for the government to use traffic fines as a revenue source, and produces equal misery among the punished. It also takes away the perverse incentive of traffic enforcement increasing in direct proportion to the wealth of the travelers.

      In addition, since many people have income that is “off the books” there is no way to fairly scale traffic fines with reported income. There are already enough incentives to stay in the underground economy; now drug dealers (or contractors, strippers, etc) with piles of unreported cash pay little or no traffic fines while chumps who go to work 9 to 5 get socked? Not a good idea.

      Since most of our civil judicial system is based on collecting money under the guise of safety, a thousand reasons will be found to explain why this would not work. Bottom line is the government wants the money and the public would rather pay fines than sacrifice their time.

      Finally, if you try to scale traffic tickets to reported income, where else should we apply this principle? Is there a multiplier at the grocery store? The gas pump?

      This is a bad idea worth burying.

      • 0 avatar
        krhodes1

        I think it is an excellent idea.

      • 0 avatar
        WildcatMatt

        “Finally, if you try to scale traffic tickets to reported income, where else should we apply this principle? Is there a multiplier at the grocery store? The gas pump?”

        Doesn’t this already exist in a fashion, in the form of gourmet foods and premium gas?

  • avatar
    ash78

    Absolutely not, but I have an alternative.

    1. Why not? Because income and wealth are two different things, and both of them can be hidden, tweaked, mis-measured, or otherwise can be not reflective of a person’s true ability to pay — especially the very wealthy.

    2. Alternative: What is the purpose of speeding tickets? To discourage speeding, but why? Because speeding is often a factor in serious accidents. A speeding car carries a lot of energy, and that energy (in addition to driver response times and attentiveness) represents the danger to others.

    The best and most objective way to assess fines is to do it based on the momentum carried by the vehicle. Someone going 100mph in a Miata is only a fraction as dangerous as someone going 100mph in a Suburban. A simple list of gross weights, plus an allowance per person, would allow for a simple mass calculation on the spot. Combine that with the measured speed and you have a good basis for fines.

  • avatar

    It’s like you said Thomas, whenever an idea like this creeps up, innocent and not so innocent defenders of the liberal ideal (in the ROW meaning of the word) rise up and block any discussion. I for one see some justice in this.

  • avatar
    hp

    Nope, dumb idea. No more class warfare. If you want to drive fast (and not hurt anyone) maybe you should work harder to pay your speeding tax whenever it randomly comes.

  • avatar
    Dan

    Small town revenuers are bad enough as it is, turn that $300 into a $10,000 jackpot for stopping the right person and you’ve just made driving a visibly expensive car into a very dangerous proposition.

    Fines of any kind in traffic enforcement are exactly the problem. Human greed being what it is, they change the focus from stopping the most dangerous drivers into stopping the most drivers. This would make that even worse.

    • 0 avatar
      Hummer

      Exactly, people are highly shortsighted to believe that it will work without having massive problems.

      Class warfare bs is getting tiring, it is disgusting to see people try to tell someone their too rich because they worked hard. Being rich should be something every person works for, never will everyone be rich, there will always be poor, but that is no excuse to break out the blame game on societies net producers, I’m sure many rich people donate more in a percentage then anyone who complains about the so called greed.

      Absolutely disgusting to see people stereotype as is being done in this thread, over a little hard work.

      • 0 avatar
        carlisimo

        Some of the proponents of this idea aren’t looking at it from a class perspective. They think the law works best if it has the same deterrent effect on everybody. In the case of fixed-fee citations, it clearly doesn’t. A speeding ticket means a lot more to someone earning $30k than someone earning two or three times as much.

        For minor tickets I think the fair thing to do would be not to raise fines for the rich, but lower them for the poor. At $100 instead of $300 (or more, which is absurd), they’d still sting if that’s more than 10% of your bi-weekly paycheck, and they’re not supposed to do much more than sting (imo). But if it’s 1% of your paycheck, then it’s likely not doing its job as a deterrent.

        • 0 avatar
          darkwing

          Either way, the effect is the same — punishing a disfavored minority. Like most of progressivism, it’s a shameful appeal to base impulses.

          • 0 avatar
            carlisimo

            By disfavored minority, do you mean speeders who got caught?

            I don’t see what the base impulses are here. The goal of the law is to scare everybody into not speeding by approximately the same amount. There may be better solutions than a monetary penalty on a sliding scale, but I think a fixed price is even worse.

      • 0 avatar
        Charliej

        When people bring up class warfare, they always mean the lower class fighting the wealthier class. The real class warfare takes place where you never see it. Bribes, excuse me, I mean campaign contributions to the finest politicians that they can buy. Laws enacted to keep the poor in line. Laws enacted to keep the rich from paying as high a percentage of their income in taxes. Since I no longer live in the formerly great US, it does not really affect me. However, if there is not more equity in how things are done in the US, I would not be surprised to see the wealthy hanging from lamp posts in the future. People with no hope for a better life, will lash out and try to change things.

        • 0 avatar
          darkwing

          One less low-information voter pulling the lever for free stuff? Fine by me.

        • 0 avatar
          chuckrs

          Here’s what Bing dragged back from a simple search.

          http://www.celebritynetworth.com/articles/entertainment-articles/30-richest-americans-time-inflation-adjusted/

          If you know your history, you’ll notice that most of these people are from a time before income tax. I only spotted two who are alive today.

          Here’s what another 30 seconds grueling work uncovered on tax receipts by quintile:

          http://www.cbo.gov/sites/default/files/cbofiles/attachments/Tax_liability_Shares.pdf

          At least some of that money at the top was also taxed first at the corporate level.

          The kicker on those 30 ultra rich Americans? If you confiscated all their assets, you’d only have half the increase in the national debt incurred in Obama’s first term, which itself is about the same level of additional debt from Bush’s two terms. Not quite geometric increase, but simply not sustainable, just like the size of our government. The US is a big golden goose, but it can be killed.

  • avatar
    99GT4.6

    Bad idea. Despite what my avatar would lead you to believe, I am not a person who excessively speeds, nor am I wealthy (though I hope to be some day). This would turn into another tax the rich cash grab. It would also lead to more running from cops and other dangerous activities. Another issue I have is there is some speed limits that are seriously too low. Anyone in Ottawa familiar with the John A. Macdonald Parkway (formerly the Ottawa River Parkway) will know what I mean. It is a divided two lane in each direction road with VERY few intersections and no houses or business along it with a speed limit of 60 km/h (37 mph). The speed limit is heavily enforced and there would be no safety hazard with raising it to 80 km/h (which most people drive anyway).

  • avatar

    Is this based on driver income or owner income?

    Driver income – hire someone at minimum wage to drive you as fast as you want to go.

    Owner income – buy the car & register with some shell company that takes a loss year after year. Negative income = no ticket?

  • avatar
    OneAlpha

    Since, like drunk driving, the vast majority of “speeding” events result in no damage and no injuries, it seems to me that the most just way to deal with road safety would be for The State to do nothing UNTIL and UNLESS a wreck occurs.

    Besides, it’s not The State’s responsibility to stamp out “social evils,” just to address overt, quantifiable criminal behavior. You know, actions that create victims.

    When we give The State power to do anything it wants in the name of preventing big, bad What Ifs, we get tyranny.

    • 0 avatar
      ash78

      Like you, I’m generally in favor of a very permissive society with extremely harsh penalties for violations. For example, allow drinking and driving, but punish collision or injury with prison time, no exceptions.

      The downside of this is that there are whole swaths of people who can’t think long-term enough to respond to these outcomes — they need interim feedback, like speeding tickets and revoked licenses. And then those things become entitlement taxes to the municipalities.

    • 0 avatar
      goldtownpe

      Okay…let’s say that things are run the way you described. A speeding driver blows by a state trooper at 120+ mph on the highway. The state doesn’t stop him or do anything because the speeding driver haven’t created any victims yet. He loses control at the next curve because he’s going way too fast for conditions, crossing over into on-coming traffic, hits another vehicle head-on killing the people in that vehicle. What if those victims were your loved ones (e.g. spouse and child)? How would feel about the law as you described now? If the trooper had stopped him, your loved ones might still be alive. Because your version of the law does not allow the trooper to stop him, your loved ones are gone much too soon.

      • 0 avatar
        OneAlpha

        “If” is the largest word in the English language.

        Stretched hypotheticals specifically tailored to refute my specific statement don’t sway me.

        You see, I’m a horrible, heartless monster, because I don’t FEEL, I THINK, especially when it comes to public policy.

        The relationship between The Individual and The State is far too important to be viewed through the prism of “What If” and decided by emotion and sentimentalism.

        For every attempt to correct a bad idea, there’s always be some sob story about how said bad idea must remain in place because someone will be painfully affected by changing it.

        “We can’t just let people have freedom, because someone might get hurt.”

        Convince me, intellectually and philosophically, that the current system of speed enforcement is compatible with both Justice and Freedom.

        Don’t try to move me with appeals to “loved ones” and soft-headed sentimentalism. I’m immune.

      • 0 avatar
        danio3834

        The idea is to make the punishment for creating victims so great that people won’t engage in reckless endangerment in the first place.

        The idea is a bit esoteric for our current litigious society, but I think the answer for today’s climate lies somewhere in between. More emphasis on the people causing harm, and less emphasis on revenue generation from those simply driving fast.

      • 0 avatar
        krhodes1

        He shouldn’t be stopped for speeding. He SHOULD be stopped for driving too fast for the prevailing conditions, which is reckless driving. 50mph might be reckless driving in an ice storm.

        But, but, but “it’s for the CHILDREN” Wail, teeth gnash, wail.

    • 0 avatar
      Landcrusher

      As the others pointed out, speeding tickets are a valuable tool to encourage less than deadly behavior. I think better results would come from emphasizing some other bad behaviors than just speed, but at some point speed is going to make you too likely to hit someone else even if you are doing everything else correctly.

      Let’s fix the system rather than chucking it.

    • 0 avatar
      30-mile fetch

      “The State to do nothing UNTIL and UNLESS a wreck occurs”

      “allow drinking and driving, but punish collision or injury with prison time” (ash78)

      Look, I don’t agree with levying fines scaled on income, but if I’m reading these correctly, they are some of the dumbest statements I have seen in some time. You are either arguing that excessive speeding and drunk driving create no additional risk to others (I’m open to info supporting this), or that demonstrably dangerous behavior is not a problem until an innocent party is harmed, and after which State punishment is sufficient to rectify damage to the victims and is indeed preferable to preventing the dangerous behavior from happening in the first place. If the latter, I hope you will support the following proposed law:

      I get to shoot my handgun randomly into the air in any neighborhood I want. You can come arrest me once a bullet strikes somebody, but not before.

      • 0 avatar
        rpn453

        I don’t know about your location, but in my city, the projectile simply isn’t allowed to leave your property, whether it’s a high powered rifle or a pellet gun. So there isn’t much of a grey area as there is with driving habits.

        An analogy to the current driving laws would be that you can use any sized firearm you can afford to purchase and buy ammo for under certain circumstances that are generally safe but still result in the deaths of 40,000 people a year due to operator negligence. If your negligence results in you seriously harming or killing somebody doing it, but it wasn’t a particular type of negligence that the government is focusing on, you get a slap on the wrist but you still get to continue operating firearms. If you carry the gun after drinking or run too fast while carrying it and harm nobody in the process, you are prohibited from using a firearm and/or must incur massive expenses to use a firearm again.

  • avatar
    Synchromesh

    The biggest issue I have with a sliding scale is the fact that this money will just go to the state in question. Do I want ugly, greedy, horrible Taxachusetts to get more money then they’re already charging out of taxpayer’s pockets? Absolutely positively NOT. They’ll just waste it. And this goes for any state, including Feds. What I would like to see is this money going towards better roads, bettering traffic patterns, even public transportation. If the law FORCED them to spend this money on useful things I could be up for it. But I’d never sign up for something that just lets the state get fatter.

  • avatar
    carguy

    The road to hell is paved with good intentions. I can just imagine that most municipalities would then just pick on more expensive cars in the hope of getting a bigger fine?

    If you want to level the playing field then take fine money out of it completely and just work with the demerit point system. That way cops don’t use it for revenue raising and really focus on those who are endangering others.

    • 0 avatar
      krhodes1

      My state already solved this problem. The local municipality doesn’t get a cent from any traffic fines issued. It all goes to the state. No incentive for the local cops to be revenuers. And in general, speed enforcement is very reasonable here. And automated ticketing devices are flat out banned.

      Unless, of course, you have MA, NY, or NJ plates between Memorial and Labor days, then it is “Tourist Taxtime”. I won’t say we locals are immune, but in a target-rich environment, the targets tend to be the ones not paying their salary.

  • avatar
    gasser

    Great idea!!! Let’s do the same for criminal offenses. If you have more education and a higher IQ you should go to prison longer. If you are a high school drop out, with the IQ of a canary, you should always be let off with a stern warning.
    Let us continue to adjust our societal sanctions and the social safety net so that drug addled and sex crazed teenagers have more of a disincentive to achieve!

    • 0 avatar

      In penal law a degree of what you say already happens. Children, crazy people, people in a state of absolute necessity, self defense are, among many other cases, granted absolute or partial immunity due to their peculiar circumstances.

      • 0 avatar
        danio3834

        Personally, I’ve never understood letting the crazies off. What better reason to keep someone far out of society?

        • 0 avatar

          Fair question. The idea would be that they don’t what they’re doing, and that it’d be barbaric to punish someone so alienated. Sometimes these guys are put into a mental institution and are never let go. It’s a kind of a life sentence. Sometimes it’d be better for them to get a sentence.

        • 0 avatar
          krhodes1

          They are not let off.

          Fundamentally, is there any difference between spending 20 years in a prison and 20 years in a mental hospital? Either way, you aren’t going home at night, and neither is a fun place to spend time. And in many cases a mental hospital is worse – you don’t have a defined sentence, and there is no parole. You are in there until they see fit to let you go, which may be never.

  • avatar
    DC Bruce

    Well, in the US, there would be a slight “equal protection” problem with this scheme.

    But aside from that, (1) Is there a really big problem with rich guys doing triple digit speeds on US highways and endangering the rest of us? and (2) Isn’t the better — and fairer — way to simply lock up people who exceed a certain threshold of behavior, maybe starting with pulling their license for a few years and then locking them up if they’re caught driving without a license on public roads.

    Personally, having been driving for nearly 50 years, my answer to question #1 is “no.” The most flagrant nutjob speeders I see are guys in tee-shirts riding crotch rockets and weaving in and out of 65 mph traffic at 50% faster speeds. The way I see it, these guys are mostly a menace to themselves, not a menace to society. And I don’t think any of them have even 6-figure incomes, much less 7.

    And lest you think I’m a doddering old fool, for 10 years, we owned a place in the highest part of West Virginia (Davis/Canaan Valley). The distance between here and there is 210 miles, about 2/3’s of which is on freeways. The rest is on two lanes. I routinely made the trip in 3 hours. What made this possible was a new piece of interstate between Hancock and Cumberland Md. When it opened, the road was completely deserted and triple digit speeds were not an insane thing to do. I doubt I could make such good time today, because that Interstate is now heavily used, so my guess is that speeds in excess of 75 would not be possible.

    • 0 avatar

      Interesting and legitimate question. However, and I do believe it was American jurists who started tackling this question, a majority of legal scholars would say that to treat unequals equally is the greatest form of inequality. In other words, real equality would be treating unequals unequally up to the point of their inequality.

      I know, I have a hard time wrapping my head around this too and it does seem a bit unfair. However, I would have to tend to agree. Absolute equality in the liberal (as meant by liberal in the ROW) sense has been largely overcome in the legal world.

    • 0 avatar
      genuineleather

      “The most flagrant nutjob speeders I see are guys in tee-shirts riding crotch rockets and weaving in and out of 65 mph traffic at 50% faster speeds.”

      This. The most dangerous drivers I see drive total hoopties; they don’t care if they wreck their (worthless) car, and they have no assets to take so they’re not worried about getting sued.

      The one exception to this are drivers in jacked-up trucks and Range Rovers; almost all are inveterate speeders and tailgaters.

      • 0 avatar
        Landcrusher

        You are just suffering from the common error of associating what you most notice with what mostly happens. Most Range Rovers are not driven that aggressively. Neither are most junkers.

      • 0 avatar
        burgersandbeer

        Agreed on the hoopties. Besides no assets and a worthless car, they probably dont have insurance – so need to worry about the premium either.

        Also agree on the jacked-up trucks. Haven’t noticed speeding Range Rovers though.

    • 0 avatar
      Quentin

      I grew up very close to Davis. Beautiful area.

  • avatar
    Ned Funnell

    Marxist traffic enforcement? Sounds great! Marxism always works! Do northern California pot growers whose kids quality for free lunch get to pay in nickels for speeding in their CLK?

  • avatar
    Ned Funnell

    Marxist traffic enforcement? Sounds great! Marxism always works! Do free-lunch-list northern California pot growers get to pay in nickels?

  • avatar
    E46M3_333

    What’s next? You go to the grocery store and check out with a few items. They take your Social Security number, look up your last 5 years W2s, and out pops your bill, adjusted for your income. “I’m sorry Mr. Gates, but for you, that head of lettuce cost $3200.”

  • avatar
    bufguy

    In Ontario there are signs on the QEW…Queen Elizabeth Way …that say if caught driving 50km over the speedlimit you were subject to up to a $10,000 fine roadside seizure of vehicle and automatic suspension of license. How’s that for deterrence?

    • 0 avatar

      In Brazil, you can be stopped and have your driver’s license seized and your right to driving taken away for 2 or 3 yrs (don’t remember exactly) if you’re caught doing 20% over the limit of whatever that road’s limit it. If somebody cannot come pick up your car, your car will also be impounded. The penalty is something like 1000 USD.

  • avatar
    CJinSD

    No.

  • avatar
    Slow_Joe_Crow

    So how has this been working out in Finland? My recollection is that the first example of a monster traffic fine based on income involved a Nokia exec several years ago, when Nokia was still successful.
    On the one hand, finding a way to make the wealthy pay a fare share instead of gaming the system for their benefit is appealing, but I’m afraid the 1% owns too many pols and will still find a way to shaft the 99%. I still hold out the faint hope that the 1% will decide to do the right Ayn Rand thing and head for Galt’s Gulch, where we can nuke them from orbit, instead of just trying to destroy the New Deal like they usually do.

  • avatar
    See 7 up

    “Police say that, once they rolled in behind the speeding car, it took it nearly a half mile to come to a complete stop. ”

    I bet he slammed on his brakes too. Or perhaps this is just sensationalist to support your crap idea.

    1) Speed limits in this country are not assigned with respect to safety. Often there is a financial incentive or just an old limit that has never changed.

    2) Speeding 10 mph over the speed limit is not a threat to anyone, especially if you are in a car that brakes 2x better than the jalopy next to you. Why should the rich guy have to pay say 10x as much when he isn’t putting any one in real harm

    3) As other noted, wealth isn’t the same as income

    4) Was the guy found speeding at 180 mph putting anyone in harms way? That is the real question. Speeding 30 mph in a 20 mph school zone is horrible, but I don’t mind if if that same person did 80 in a 70. Or even 105 if the road were clear.

  • avatar
    racer193

    Here in Nova Scotia (and I believe other parts.of Canada) travelling at 50 km/h over the posted limit nets you asix points deduction and a fine from $2000 to $10.000. It is called stunting, and their are other things that fall into that category like burning your tires, careless maneouvers and wheelies in a bike. kinda crazy as since this has been the law I have seen all of these things on my street in a school zone during school hours but I have yet to see anyone caught and penalized on my street.

  • avatar
    cartunez

    Speed limits are complete bullshit – they exist only to paid state government coffers

  • avatar
    CelticPete

    Why is it some people want to empower the government to take away wealth? I don’t see why this is the rage. It’s not like they are actually going to give the money to you. Not only do they not give the money to you – amazingly you end up OWING the government more money in terms of national debt.

    Anyway I think this idea is unamerican. Part of what I learned about justice is that in theory it’s supposed to be equal (same crime – same penalty) and the punishment should fit the crime. (If you murder someone huge penalty – if you speed small penalty).

    Your idea violates both of these principles. Excessively high speeding fines is fine for europe – where they don’t believe in these principles. But here excessively large charges levied on people simply because they make a large income (which is a laughable way to measure wealth – real rich people have no income) is simply doling out punishment based on class or status. That’s punishment that fits the income. So in effect you are punishing people for a large income.

    What makes this idea especially offensive is that here in the states we already have better way for dealing with extreme speeders. It’s called jail. Crazing speeding is in fact criminal..That’s how it should be.

    Listen if you want to live in Sweden or another socialist european country..that’s fine with me. But I don’t want to bring that kind of governance here.

  • avatar
    sketch447

    The sliding scale is an interesting notion, except for one minor detail: the Equal Protection Clause of the Constitution. It basically means all laws apply equally to all citizens. So a speeding infraction can’t cost a rich guy more than a poor guy. That’s the true definition of egalitarianism, not the distorted, class-envy-tinged definition you’re promoting.

    If we run with your notion, why can’t that sliding scale apply to every infraction, including criminal infractions? Who decides it? Some left-wing judge with lifetime tenure?

    Rich people aren’t the problem in America. Government is the problem. And another thing: I’ve seen plenty of high-end Bimmers and Porsches being driven with great care and respect for others on the highway. Meanwhile, I’ve been terrorized by plenty of 15-year-old Corollas and Civics, ostensibly driven by your stainless and virtuous “poor” people.

  • avatar
    DanDotDan

    We’ve already got the IRS involved in our health care system and I don’t want to make them part of our transportation system too.


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